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THE NATURE OF SUBSTANCE
Taken from the book The Nature of Substance, Rudolf Hauschka.
We must now try to dispel some of the confusion prevailing on the subject of zodiacal signs and constellations. At the start of our era the sun rose on the first day of spring, March 21, in the constellation Aries. This point on the horizon is called the vernal point. In our discussion of nitrogen we mentioned the fact that it takes the vernal point one Platonic year (25,920 sun-years) to complete one round of the Zodiac. Thus far, in the approximately 2,000 years that have elapsed, the vernal point has progressed far enough to rise in the constellation Pisces. The spring sun in the northern hemisphere no longer rises in Aries, as it did, but in Pisces. Astrology, however, continues to place the vernal point under the sign of Aries, and to say that Aries is to be called the spring sign for all future reference. Looked at in this way, the vernal point becomes a mere convenient device for anchoring a system of coordinates. The division of the Zodiac into twelve equal segments, called by the traditional names of the twelve zodiacal constellations, made it necessary to distinguish constellations from the so-called ‘signs’ thus arbitrarily created. This explains why the ‘signs’ of the Zodiac are already one whole constellation behind the real positions of the stars and will fall still further behind as time goes on.
We must take into account the fact that the zodiacal constellations vary considerably in size and that the heavens are not divided into twelve equal segments. When in the following pages we associate the twelve months with the twelve constellations, we have only a very rough correspondence in mind.
We showed above how cosmic forces interact in the formation of starch:
Starch is the product of cosmic fire, cosmic life and cosmic formative forces. Three substances, hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, are the end-products of its dissolution. We sought traces of their cosmic origin in their physical and chemical behaviour. Protein may similarly be described as the product of an interweaving of four cosmic principles:
Now where are these cosmic signposts pointing? What is the origin of these substances which seem to be the basis of all organic nature?
If we follow the activity of hydrogen in the living kingdoms through a whole year’s cycle, it obviously reaches a maximum in high summer. The most intensive etherealization of plant substances takes place at this warmest time of the year. Seeds start to ripen, and oil, materialized cosmic fire, begins to form in them.
High summer comes in August in the northern hemisphere, the month when the sun passes through the constellation of the Lion, which has always symbolized flaming courage and all such fiery attitudes of soul. Old Oriental picturings of lions express this characteristic in a flaring mane which surrounds the head like a golden sun-aura. It may be assumed that the representations of zodiacal figures found in old calendars retain something of the ancient wisdom hidden in pictures. These were the work of priests of olden times, and were never arbitrary, but rather pictorial records of what they knew about the Zodiac. Naturally, these pictures are not to be grasped by a trifling approach, nor are they meant to portray physical animals. They are to be thought of as depicting processes and activities in artistic and pictorial, but at the same time real, images. They were a very real experience to men of old.
The cosmos was recognized by the ancients to have twelve distinctly different phases of activity, and they therefore ascribed twelve characteristics to these heavenly forces. And though we have lost the capacities that conceived these images, we can still feel the truth they symbolize if we approach them with artistic and unprejudiced sympathy.
Leo, the lion, is in this sense the representation of fire-related forces raying from his segment of the universe into all levels of activity and manifestation: the soul-spiritual, the biological, the mineral. Their final manifestation is in hydrogen and its activity; here the sublime process comes to rest. One cannot help thinking of the adage, ‘Matter is the last step on the path of God.’
Oxygen, on the other hand, reaches the climax of its activity in nature when the earth is saturated with the fertile moisture of melting snow or mild spring showers, the season when sap begins to stream through roots and stems and there is stirring and germinating everywhere.
This is the moment just before the coming of spring in the north, toward the last part of February, when the sun is passing through Aquarius, ‘the water-carrier’. Here is a picture of fertility, the ancient symbol of an activity that blessed and fertilized the earth. Streams of quickening water drench the land and summon into earthly appearance all manner of living forms. This is the opposite pole to Leo’s fire-process, and is therefore more to the fore at the opposite season. Oxygen is active at the time when all through nature life is being carried over into physical form with the inflow of fertilizing, saturating water. High summer is the season of oxygen’s polar opposite, hydrogen: a subtle fire-process, which everywhere dissolves form and etherealizes matter. These two processes are as opposite in character as the two zodiacal figures Leo and Aquarius are in space.
An objection everyone is sure to raise is that in the tropics, the southern hemisphere and at the poles, plants go through their various life stages at a quite different season. In this connection, let us consider the following.
What might be called the classical cycle of the seasons is a phenomenon of the temperate zones. … And this normal cycle depends on a balance being kept between terrestrial and cosmic forces. This leads to a harmonizing rhythm between the changing relationships of earth and sun (as cosmic representative). Where earth forces gain the upper hand, as at the poles, or where life is dominated by cosmic radiating forces, as at the equator, …, one-sided conditions result.
Goethe gave the key to a quite new way of looking at all the phenomena of nature with his theory of colour, which cannot be too highly valued. Between the poles of light and darkness live the rhythms inherent in colour; between cosmos and earth arises the wealth of rhythmic life-phenomena of the earth’s surface; between poles and equator the rhythmic alternation of the seasons comes into being. The Goethean concept of the two poles and a third new element, rhythm, which reconciles these two extremes, throws fresh light on everything in the organic kingdom. Light and darkness create the rainbow; earth and cosmos create the living kingdom of the earth.
The earth itself is a living organism — a fact still familiar to Kepler. The zone between the poles and the equator is the scene of manifold rhythmic phenomena that mirror cosmic rhythms.
For the earth, the regular succession of the seasons is like human breathing. We have shown how cosmically regulated this breathing rhythm is — a reflection of the sun-rhythm of the Platonic year. But the head and the metabolism of man, which correspond to the earthly polarities of pole and equator, have their own independent rhythms. Therefore cosmic rhythms are mirrored only in the middle region of both man and earth.
Details of such interrelationships are very complex. But if one approaches them with a feeling for the whole picture, many phenomena of earth and cosmos will disclose their secrets.
Now let us return to the question: Where is aerogen (nitrogen) most strongly active? We recall the description given earlier of the forming of protein. It begins with visits of butterflies, bees and beetles to the flowers, where nitrogen’s mobility enables seeds to form. This process coincides with the blossoming of plants, the swarming of insects, with the wind carrying pollens of grass and blossoming grain over the countryside.
Such are the main events of the end of May in the north, when the sun is passing through the constellation Taurus. Again, all this is in keeping with the ancient view, which used the Bull as symbol of the forces of motion. Nowhere do we find an old portrayal of a bull lying still and peaceful in a meadow; he is always depicted charging, or otherwise most active. In none of the twelve zodiacal images is movement as much emphasized as it is in Taurus. This sign is clearly the image of universal, all- inclusive forces of movement, which are active at all possible levels, down to the final one: the forming of nitrogen. Thus the zodiacal region from which forces of movement issue is called Taurus, the Bull.
Now the opposite pole of motion is fixity. just as we showed nitrogen to be the carrier of motion, so carbon was described as the carrier of form. Carbon is nature’s great stabilizer. It forms the scaffolding in plants, animals and man.
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
In April the Old Testament Study took a further step: to the book of Samuel. Many of the stories of the Old Testament become a prefiguring of the great story of the incarnation of the Christ and the three years leading to the great Mystery of Golgotha and the Resurrection. We have encountered this in the name of Joshua. His name in the original language is the same name as Jesus: (from Wkikpedia) “Yeshua or Y'shua (ישוע; with vowel pointing Hebrew: יֵשׁוּעַ, romanized: Yēšūaʿ) was a common alternative form of the name Hebrew: יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, romanized: Yəhōšūaʿ, lit. 'Joshua') in later books of the Hebrew Bible and among Jews of the Second Temple period. The name corresponds to the Greek spelling Iesous (Ἰησοῦς), from which, through the Latin IESVS/Iesus, comes the English spelling Jesus.” The name means: the one who saves, that was Joshua’s role. Michaël provided a list of so many of the stories that are a pre-figuring.
Names in this story reveal a lot of the story. Samu-el is a reference to El or God. In Hebrew it meant ‘request from God’ when Samuel’s mother named him or ‘gift from God’. But, fundamentally it had come to mean ‘a son from God’ or even ‘a son of God’. Samuel’s name is son of God, a great prefiguring. Samuel’s father, Elkanah (El-kanah means ‘God has purchased’ or ‘made it his own’) had two wives, one named Penninah meaning ‘pearl’ (physical beauty) and Hannah meaning ‘favour’ or ‘grace’ (spiritual beauty). Elkanah favours Hannah, meaning that he favoured grace from God over a precious pearl. Annually they go to Shiloh (meaning town of tranquillity or peace). The priest in Shiloh is Eli (El-I, ‘ascend to God’ – he lifts the people to El through YHWH: Yahweh of the Elohim) with two sons, Hophni (boxer) and Phinehas (brazen of mouth).
Hannah had no children while Penninah had children. The story can be read in 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2. Hanna petitions YHWH for a son. The word is Sha-al or sha-ul which is also the name Saul, the first King of Israel whom Samuel will anoint. Before the King of Kings walked the earth the people request a prefiguring, a king. Hannah is graced with a son and when the boy, whom she names Samuel, is weaned she fulfils a promise that he will serve YHWH. The presentation of Samuel to YHWH is done with three offerings: a three-year old bull: the death of the strong bull, flour (bread) and wine. She promises that he will be a Nazir or Nazirite which meant that he would take the ascetic vow described in Numbers 6:1-21. Michaël described beautifully how the petition of Hannah to YHWH is reciprocated by the petition of YHWH to Hannah for the child to bring about the salvation of the nation of Israel. There is a working together of the mighty angelic being YHWH and the human being. Hannah praises God with a song and we hear a version of this song when Mary meets her cousin Elizabeth and realises she is pregnant. Mary has a feeling that she is carrying a Samu-el (a son of God) when she magnified the Lord in song.
We continued to read the calling of Samuel and the Ark of the Covenant falling into the hands of the Philistines and the events that led to the return of the Ark.
Then the people of Israel demanded a King and Samuel, through YHWH, agrees that they should have a king. We then read the story of the calling of Saul. Samuel anoints Saul with oil. This is the first anointing of a king. Samuel tells Saul what he will encounter on his journey following their meeting, which events are all to confirm the message from YHWH, and thereafter he can “do whatever seems good to you”. Saul must decide through his own Ego what is good for him to do. This is an anointing of kingship into the human family of the consciousness soul experience. Then Saul must wait seven days to receive instruction from Samuel. Saul must wait out the days for a new creation to land in him (seven days of Creation). Saul experiences that ‘another heart’ enters him as he leaves Samuel, he becomes another man. When Samuel brings all the people of Israel together he uses the casting of lots to confirm for the people that Saul is chosen by YHWH and the people chant “God save the king”. This is the first time that a king has not arisen out a genealogical line but by an anointing brought about by YHWH as the representative of God.
When we consider the Christ-in-me and ourselves as king through the indwelling “I” the question may arise: “How do I save myself?” We may be lowly, as Saul describes himself as the lowest person in Israel, but we can each help co-create our salvation.
Now anointing is given to king as well as to priest and prophet. We receive the anointing before death for the three roles after death. The anointing provides the strength to cross the threshold and to ‘become another man’ and also to return across the threshold.
Talk by Rev. Michaël Merle: Finding the Inner Balance Point, The outer and inner aspects of the moods of the days in Holy Week – Initiative
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
Holy Week is an extraordinary week because it begins on Palm Sunday and it goes up to, and draws into itself, Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday is the first day of a new week and equally the eighth day of Holy Week. The eighth day is a completion that also begins something new. It gives a sense of an octave of what unfolds towards Easter.
Sunday is a day of the sun and the rising of the sun. There is a rising on Palm Sunday and again on Easter Sunday with the Resurrection. Each day of any week begins with a reflection on the previous day, a reflective mood as befits Monday, the day of the moon. Then the business of the day begins and we are into the mood of Mars, Tuesday. The day invariably requires that we become flexible which is the mood of Mercury, Wednesday. But the day does not end before we organise everything, knowing that we have met the unexpected. This is the Jupiter time of the day, Thursday. When we realise that day has been good and we feel good about what has been accomplished we experience the Friday mood of the day. By evening we go into rest and sleep, the Saturday time of the day. In this way the moods of the week are expressed in a single day.
This talk is about taking initiative. In John 1:35 we read that John the Baptist says: “See the Lamb of God” and two of his disciples leave to follow Jesus. What prompted this? On the previous day John speaks of the Lamb of God which prepared his disciples to take an initiative. There was a capacity in the disciples to do something out of themselves. They needed some preparation and the words of John on the previous day would have been sufficient: John 1: 29-34. In these words John speaks about the Lamb of God as: “he it is who baptises with the Holy Spirit”.
This baptism of the Holy Spirit that occurred on the first Whitsun is a baptism of which we are the inheritors. We have received this baptism of the Holy Spirit. As a result of this great event, possible only through the Resurrection, something became integrated in us. The earthly “I”, the capacity to organise ourselves, became integrated into the human being. Before this we were not truly able to take true initiative.
Initiative comes from Latin meaning to start. Initiative starts from me, an “I” response. An initiate can initiate something. An initiate is someone who is anointed for a task. In taking initiative we recognise that some aspect of ourselves has been anointed by the Holy Spirit and through this anointing a part of ourselves is integrated within us. Before we could take initiative from our true self human beings did things, but what they did was out of need. What they did was a reaction to their situation, not a response, and therefore it was an instinct – an appropriate human instinct. In time, drive and desire caused human beings to act. Initiative occurs out of freedom. It is an ability that arises in us through motivation. Motivation is entirely self-generated. The word comes from ‘to move’.
Initiative requires an “I” which is more than a physical body, the etheric life force or an astral capacity. This capacity wakes up on Palm Sunday. It is the first step. Not yet the completion. The ability to motivate ourselves out of our own freedom is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Prior to this the activity of human beings was driven externally and therefore not yet free. Humanity was under a condition that may be described as ‘The Fall’.
The disciples of John acted out of themselves because this ability was dawning for the human being.
Jesus turns to these two disciples and asks: “What are you seeking?” They are seeking out of their own sense of something of importance. They answer that they wish to know where they can find him. It is clear they have not yet found themselves, their own home. Jesus responds with an invitation. It will be revealed to them. This generates a new initiative in their freedom to go out and invite others to also come and find it as well. This next step in their initiative is vital. They send themselves out to find others.
Modern initiation, in the time of the Consciousness Soul, is leaning to get on with other people. We are all modern initiates because we are capable of beginning something, of taking initiative.
This talk was followed on each evening of Holy week with a contemplation at the altar that spoke of the mood of each day as described in a word in the second paragraph of the report above.
a reflection by John-Peter Gernaat
Once a year Reingard presents a profound talk that very few people who read this newsletter attend. It is the preparation for confirmation talk to the parents and family of the confirmands.
Each year the circumstances are different, the audience is different and Reingard has spent a year developing a new insight into realm of the spirit. Each year, therefore, these talks reveal something new about our human existence. Because this sacrament is one that is available only once in a person’s life and the parents are in a space that they will only experience it once, no matter that the confirmand has siblings, the hour must prepare those present in a very particular way. Over the years, these talks provide a very unique insight into our human path on earth, that is otherwise not presented in this profound a manner. Here are a few reflections from the talk given on 23 April 2022.
When we are born we receive a body that is a blueprint from our parents. During the first seven years of life we use all our energy to develop this body and to make it our own. We replace every cell that was given us from our parents, even our teeth, to make this body our own. We continue to replace the cells of our body in the successive cycles of seven years, but never again as fully as in the first seven years. It is because we are not able to repeat what the first seven years were able to do, that we age.
We were reminded that puberty is a type of new birth. The parents have been witness to the physical development of the child. They have noted every milestone and achievement of the child. No two children develop in the same way or follow the same timetable. Each individual is unique and the physical development provides clues. Youth is the time of the development of the soul. This development is in some ways very similar to the physical development, except that it is invisible. The parents can accompany it in the same manner as they did the physical development, but it may be difficult to realise that the body, that almost resembles an adult, is as fragile within as the baby and toddler was whom the parents cared for in childhood.
A child looks up to its parents and in many ways views its parents as God: the people who can achieve everything for them. In youth the young person expects something different from the parents. The young person expects to see the parents working at their own inner development. The parent who portrays themselves as complete, loses the respect of the youth. Youth is a time of great soul turbulence and great soul strength. It is finding itself. No parent can stand up to the soul forces of a teenager with only soul strength. The adult can only stand up against these forces from a place of their “I”-forces, their integrity, their inner alignment with themselves.
The transition from the Sacrament of Confirmation to the Act of Consecration of Man, when the celebrant is devested of vestments to be vested again is a very real picture. The vestments of the Sacrament of Confirmation stand as an image of childhood. The celebrant is then devested down to the black cassock, before being vested with the white alb, an image of the overcoming of death. Thereafter the celebrant is girded as an image of taking hold of oneself, the stole as an image of the connection of the head to the heart, and the loose chasuble as the vestment that does not yet belong to the individual but reminds us that we are still in becoming and part of a larger human community. This transition is a clear picture to the confirmand of the changing organisation they are experiencing and with which they are expected to face the world.
This moment in the life of a human being is profound on a deep level. It empowers the youth with a new force. A seed is sown and a wellspring open on which they can draw throughout life, even if not always consciously.
When a baby is baptised, three substances are used to guide the soul into earthly existence in a human body. These substances are water, salt and ash. Each substance has a very specific quality. Water is fluid and permeating; salt is structured and provides carrying form; and ash is the remaining minerals that cannot be consumed by fire to dissolve into whence they came before becoming part of the plant that is burned to ash. In itself ash is nothing but placed into proximity to a seed it is nourishment to stimulate new growth. These substances inform us of physical qualities we can then work at developing in our soul and in our spirit as refined human capacities. We can contemplate what these qualities are in each sphere of our being. From youth and through adulthood we are able to take hold of the impulse ourselves that is gifted in baptism, and we do so by inscribing three crosses, one over each point where the baptismal substances are inscribed, during the Act of Consecration of Man. This activity serves as a stimulus for the journey we are on as human beings.
This month we turn in Growing Points to part of the formulation of The creed and what it says to us about the very heart of the meaning of Church and of Community:
Today all our ideas about ‘the Church’ must be recast. The time for monopolistic claims and monopolistic organisations is over. No single body can, in reality, be the sole possessor of the truth. Every honest attempt to observe the facts will make this clear. But there is no need for Christianity therefore to disintegrate into a number of warring sects. If we adjust our ideas, we can well conceive of a more living and organic ‘unity’ in which a great variety of ‘diversities’ can form a brotherly community.
The distinctive contribution of The Christian Community to this process of rethinking can be most concisely illustrated by the sentence in which ‘the Church’ is referred to in the ‘creed’ which is said in the Act of Consecration of Man. In the place of the traditional credo in unam sanctam catholicam etapostolicam ecciesiam (I believe in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church), it states ‘Communities whose members feel the Christ within themslves, may feel united in a Church to which all belong who are aware of the health-bringing power of the Christ’.
Whole centuries must have breathed a sigh of relief when this sentence was formulated. … If nothing else were left of Rudolf Steiner’s work than his recasting of the Apostles’ Creed, of which this sentence is part, it would establish his fame as a religious genius. Characteristically, in this rebirth of the creed, communities are taken as the basic units of the Church. The fact that the Christian Church consists of differentiated branches is taken as fundamental. The Book of Revelation comes to mind, which describes seven churches as typical patterns of Christian communities with their characteristic virtues and shortcomings. But the ideal Church in which individual ‘Communities whose members feel the Christ within themselves may feel themselves united’, is broad enough to embrace spiritually ‘all people’ as belonging to it ‘who are aware of the health-bringing power of the Christ’. It has room for the solitary disciples, too, although it is somewhat unnatural and almost a contradiction in terms to be a Christian and not to be within the fellowship of a community. (Whether the various ‘Communities’ which ‘may feel themselves united’ in this ‘Church’ form a World Council of Churches or some similar body on the level of physical organisation is another matter, and perhaps, then, of secondary importance. If such a Council is inspired by the organic idea of a free and living union of Communities, it can be a very important interdenominational meeting place, and a means of speaking with an influential voice on world affairs. If, on the other hand, it sees itself as a pacemaker for a ‘reunion’ in terms of a universal, streamlined organisation, it is in danger of serving the ghosts of the past.)
Nothing has greater power to form community than common worship. And sacramental worship in which time and again the same sacred procession of words, symbols and acts passes through the souls of those present, is the most uniting form of worship. In it also ‘the health-bringing power of the Christ’ is active in purest form.
In a true Eucharistic service the true selves of the worshippers are united with Christ. When we remember him, he remembers us, for he has promised to do so. But his memory is not tied to a mortal brain which allows only mere shadows of the past to arise. His ‘memory’ is a true ‘re-membering’. He is there where he sends his thoughts, he becomes a real ‘member’ of the congregation at the altar, and he can be in many places at the same time. When he told his disciples at the Last Supper, ‘Do this in remembrance of me’, he did not suggest a pale commemoration of a past event, but a re-living of his real presence in which he will truly co-operate. ... Bread and wine carry Christ’s healing forces into us in order to include even the body in the process of redemption, and to impress upon it, stage by stage, the incorruptible perfection of Christ’s body of resurrection.
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In his book The Nature of Substance, Rudolf Hauschka presents a picture of Scorpio and the chemical element associated with it: Carbon. This is then placed in the context of the Atmospheric Cross of Elements. In bringing the forces of Scorpio to mind in this context, Hauschka says:
“Antiquity had another name for this constellation: the Eagle. This picture was an image of cosmic formative forces operative not in the crudely physical, but on the highest level, that of thinking. It depicted the eagle’s power to soar into the sun and survey the scene below from a great height. This symbolized the divine capacity given to man to reflect sublime facts in the thoughts he forms. Materialism was responsible for the eagle being forgotten and replaced by the symbol of death, the scorpion.
Carbon, the last manifestation of the scorpion-eagle forces, also appears in several modifications. The shining diamond is as high above the level of black coal as the soaring eagle is above the crawling scorpion. Indeed, the eagle—qualities noted above have, as it were, been materialized in the diamond’s substance. The constellation Eagle—Scorpion possesses a double nature: death in the scorpion, a soaring to loftiest heights in the eagle. We have here a sort of phoenix-motif. But natural death can be looked on in the Goethean sense as a return to essential being, to the disembodied state. When a plant dies and becomes a carbon skeleton, its being withdraws from the material condition into a world we cannot see.
So every death frees a being into higher life. When nature’s being remanifests in spring, there is already a seed of death in all its germinating sprouting growth, for without this seed there can be no such thing as shape or form. Involution and evolution, being and manifestation, death and resurrection: all these polarities, which are in turn but a single unity, belong to the nature of the Scorpion-Eagle, the cosmic home of the forces from which carbon issues.
Goethe expressed it:
Your soul will stay forlorn
Until you come to know:
To die and be re-born,
Is Spirit’s way to grow.
A study of these four cosmic principles which breed the material substances hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon shows hydrogen and oxygen to be polar opposites in nature, like the constellations Leo and Aquarius. Similarly, nitrogen (motility) and carbon (fixity) belong to the opposite cosmic poles, Taurus and Scorpio. The four together form a cross
It will be obvious from the above that the four substances described are reflected in the four Aristotelian elements, fire, water, air and earth. And we should notice the remarkable fact that all four substances are found in our atmosphere, and are indeed, the elements of all the organic kingdoms:
The cosmic cross: Leo, Aquarius, Taurus and Scorpio, could thus be called the atmospheric cross, or the cross of the organic cosmos.
These considerations may suggest a possibility of explaining relationships between earth and universe, microcosm and macrocosm, in a way suited to modern consciousness. It is right to repudiate the old, unintelligible conceptions if one cannot arrive at comprehensible, reasonable new ones. New methods of investigation must work at this task… In the work of the great men of our past we find the germs of a new understanding of these interrelationships.
The four constellations chosen for mention in the [section] above always enjoyed a privileged position. It is they who give the essence of their being physical expression in hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. Their harmonious interaction produces the substance protein, the basis of all the more highly organized forms of life.
The various properties of protein seem marvellous indeed as one considers how it is formed of these four elements. Each has its own well defined and extensive sphere of action, while together they form a matrix for the development of the three kingdoms, endowed with life (plants), soul (animals), and spirit (man). We came to know oxygen as the element that carries life into physical manifestation, nitrogen as the force that permeates life with feeling and motion, hydrogen as the strongest power of ascent from the material to the spiritual, carbon as the crystallizing agent that brings what is endowed with spirit, soul and life into physical manifestation.
These four substances in various combinations and permutations enable the Creative cosmos to become effective for the earth and to continue reproducing miniature likenesses of the universe in earthly matter. This capacity is most apparent in the seed. Its protein provides the material that brings the prototypal image of the plant into physical manifestation.”
The Old Testament Study
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
The day the sun stood still (Joshua 10)
YHWH (Yahweh of the Elohim) had an intention that the Israelites should meet the spiritual forces of Canaan and in a sense marry with these spiritual forces and thereby bring about a transformation and a fructification. The people of the city of Jericho closed themselves off to others and so did the people of the city of Ai and both cities became anathema to YHWH and were annihilated. Gibeon made peace and Israelites lived together with the Gibeonites. To understand these spiritual forces better Michaël elaborated on the history that led to these spiritual forces arising in Canaan.
Having the history of the mythology of Egypt and Phoenicia in mind transforms the understanding of Joshua 10. What is presented becomes visible as a great cosmic picture of the spiritual forces that are at play in human evolution and destiny. The importance of the marriage that YHWH intended becomes clear. It is also possible to understand what blocked the peoples of Jericho and Ai to the invitation that the Israelites share in the space they inhabited. In Joshua 10 the story becomes subordinate to the spiritual picture that it presents. The earthly story is a reflection of a greater spiritual interchange.
Osiris was a great Egyptian god who married his sister and they have a son. The myths that exist about Osiris come to us from the Greek and Roman myths and stories and represent their understanding of the stories that were held religiously by the Egyptians and the Phoenicians. We can discern from these myths something of the journey of Osiris. There are several different myths about the death of Osiris. He is then resurrected and fathers his son after his resurrection. His resurrection is more of a revitalisation for a short period in order to father his son, Horus. One myth tells of Osiris being sealed in a coffin and the coffin being set adrift on the Nile which is a story we encounter again with the infant Moses who was placed in a basket of reeds that was sealed and termed a coffin. The theme of death leading into life is part of the human mythology from the earliest time. It finds its fullest expression, a true lasting reality for the human condition, in the death and resurrection of the Mystery of Golgotha. The coffin of Osiris disappeared, and Isis searched for it. The coffin had become lodged in a tree and the tree had grown around it encasing it completely. This tree was then cut down to become one of the pillars in either the temple or the king’s palace in Byblos in what would have been Phoenicia. When Isis finally found the coffin in the pillar, she released Osiris from the coffin and revitalised him in order to become the father of Horus. Osiris then returned to the Underworld, the world of the dead, to become the new ruler of the Underworld, ruler of those who had died, in place of his brother who has caused his death.
The Egyptian had seen Osiris as a god in the sun. The light of the sun, sun wisdom, had inspired the Egyptians to see Osiris, to recognise the quality of Osiris and inspire the myths that they would tell of Osiris’ life. They cast the mythology into earthly reality in order that it could be understood. Osiris is then the great pharaoh. In most traditions of Osiris he is depicted as green skinned. This colour of green is strongly associated with the Sumerian goddess connected with the planet Venus, gifting us with copper. She then becomes the goddess Isis for the Egyptians and Venus for the Romans. Botticelli, in his depiction of Venus, shows her coming ashore on the island of Cyprus which was the main source of copper in the ancient world. Green became associated with the colour of sacrificial love, the reality of which is found on Good Friday in the sacrifice on the cross. Green therefore has a strong association with the Christ-like sacrificial forces. Osiris as a pharaoh is depicted with a green skin and his lower half is mummified. He is half alive and half dead. This provides a sense of death into life.
There came a time when the Egyptians could no longer see Osiris in the light wisdom of the sun. One could say that he had left the sun-sphere. The being of Osiris then reappears in the legends of the Phoenicians as another sun god, Adonis. He disappeared to the sight of the Egyptians in the sun-sphere and reappeared to the sight of the Phoenicians in the sun-sphere. Adonis had many of the qualities of Osiris. Adonis was also connected to the island of Cyprus. There was a king on the island of Cyprus who had a daughter, Myrrha. Her mother describes her as more beautiful than Aphrodite. Aphrodite is displeased and cursed Myrrha to fall in love with her father. Her servant helps her trick her father into sleeping with her and she falls pregnant. Her father banishes her and while fleeing across Arabia asked the gods to hide her. They transform her into a tree, the myrrh tree and in this form she gives birth to Adonis. The baby was found by Aphrodite who gave him to the daughter of Demeter, on whose festival the pregnancy occurred, Persephone to raise. Persephone spent part of her life in the Underworld and she choses to raise Adonis in the Underworld. When Adonis became a man Aphrodite came to see him and fell in love with him, but so did Persephone. There are different versions of the legend as to how Adonis becomes the full-time lover of Aphrodite.
Osiris as a sun-being for the Egyptians re-emerged as a sun-being for the Phoenicians. Adonis means “the Lord”. He was the Lord of the sun and a central figure in the Phoenician religion and mythology.
The Israelites found themselves under the protection of a mighty spiritual being who was God’s agent. In the Jewish scriptures he is described as Yahweh of the Elohim and his name is the tetragrammaton YHWH. The Elohim were seen as beings of the sun, they carried sun-like wisdom. YHWH of the Elohim leaves the sphere of the sun for the sphere of the moon to be nearer in the hierarchical, angelic, celestial spheres to humanity. He makes a certain sacrifice to his development as a sun-being and he appears to the Israelites as a moon-being. We translate Elohim as God but the actual meaning is ‘the strong ones of God’. El is the Almighty, the Originator, the Great Creator, the Almighty Oneness of Divinity. El is a Canaanite language word. El therefore comes out of the Canaanite / Phoenician stream. It is still used today in names where it denotes ‘of God’, such as Michael, Gabriel, etc. But the Hebrews could not say the name of YHWH because it was too holy to speak, they read it as “Lord”. Hence the translation in the King James Bible as “the Lord God” of what was written as “YHWH of the Elohim”. YHWH was called “the Lord” and they spoke of him as Adonai. The word Adonai comes from the same language source as Adonis.
When the Israelites come with a sense of Adonai they meet a culture that knows Adonis. One Lordship comes into contact with another. This was the marriage that YHWH, Adonai, was asking; a meeting of the counter image.
The Israelites also experience this in the way in which the land is divided among the 12 tribes. Each area is given to the family of a son of Israel because the geography marched the character of that son of Israel. It reflected something of who they were and the qualities and characteristics they brought to their descendants. Each tribe met in the land in which they settle a counter image; in the sense they saw only one side of themselves and facing them was the other side of themselves which they have not seen and must embrace and which must embrace them in order for something new to come. It was to be a fertilisation of culture, a fertility cult. One culture was an image of the other. When the two images married something new could come.
Adoni-Zedek, the lord of justice, was a descendent of Melchizedek who was the king of peace and justice. Adoni-Zedek was king of Jerusalem, city of peace. The king of justice has a descendent who was no longer a master of himself (no longer a king), but rather a servant of Adonai, the Adonai we know as Adonis. He was the lord of justice or the ruler of justice as understood in the rulership of the lord, Adonis. Where Melchizedek was a ruler in his own mastery, following El, a priest of El. He was master of himself and directly responding to El. The descendent of Melchizedek responds to an agent of El, one of the many mighty spiritual beings. In this case to Adonis, a version of Osiris, rather than YHWH, the Adonai of Israel.
With this background it is possible to read Joshua 10. Joshua and his army could travel by night because YHWH (Adonai) is a moon-being, while the Amorite kings felt able only to operate under the sun because Adonis was a sun-being. When the Amirite kings fled they encountered a hailstorm in the maintains that the story attributes to Adonai and we have an early story of natural disasters being attributed to the gods. Joshua felt that he could charge the power of Adonis a sun-being represented in the physical realm as the sun, and the power of Adonai, a sun-being now operating from the moon-sphere, represented in the physical as the moon – two lordships working in partnership with each other – to hold their position. It is an extraordinary cosmic picture. The forces of sun and moon stood still, and it was written in the “Book of the Just”, the Book of Joshua. This was the right way it should have happened, a marriage, as chosen by the Gibeonites. But now the sun and the moon held still while justice was done on the earth. The earth is the place where true justice can take place, the place where we can find the right balance and discernment for the justice that must come. It is a great picture. The sun stood still; time stood still for a day. In a cosmic picture this means the earth stood still for a day. The entire cosmic script stood still for a moment. What is depicted was a real experience on the earth of a mighty spiritual tussle and for the people who experienced it, they experienced time standing still while these two mighty spiritual beings, Adonai and Adonis stood opposite each other and held their positions. They had to learn to work together and the way they work together was to move again in their normal rhythms and cycles.
There has never been a day such as this where the Adonai of Israel listened to a man. This was a real experience for the Israelites, even if the earth had not stopped turning on its axis. With the full might of the spiritual worlds behind them the Israelites now have full possession of the land.
Then we have a picture of what it means to die without the possibility of resurrection. There was no life possibility after death. It is the opposite of the stone being rolled away from the tomb on Easter Morning and the tomb is empty. The tomb is not a place of death any more, it is a place of possibility and life is not in the tomb. The grace of the Divine is in the tomb in the form of an angelic being that instructs the women that Jesus is not there. They must leave the tomb and go out into life to find the life force that has come from death. In the story in Joshua 10 we find the opposite, the sealing of the living in a tomb with great stones and bringing them out to kill them and then placing them back in the tomb and sealing it again. This is a strong picture of death without the possibility of life. What was required was for the Amorites to extend themselves towards the Israelite’s coming in order to complete something for them, otherwise they, like the citizens of Jericho end up being annihilated. This must be seen in a metaphorical sense.
The killing of the Amorite kings by stepping on their necks was a gesturing to the Elohim who have the ability to turn and face a new reality, in this way the neck allows the head to turn and face another perspective. The thinking of the kings was fixed and therefore they were already dead spiritually. They were brought down from the trees on which they were hung at nightfall, at the time of the rulership of YHWH, to be returned to the caves where they had hidden and to be sealed in with stones.
This story is the meeting of YHWH with Adonis/Osiris and taking over the rulership/lordship, but from the position of the realm of the moon, not from the realm of the sun, which was his original home. The tale of the day the sun stood still is probably not known by many people.
Adonis was also worshiped as Baal, the great Lord. In the marriage of the two cultures the Israelites often forgot who their Lord was and turned to worshipping the overthrown Lord. In the book of Judges this was the cyclical life of the Israelites and each time a new Judge was called to judge the situation for the people and set them back on the path of YHWH.
In completing the book of Joshua we read Joshua asking the people of Israel whether they could remain faithful to YHWH for he “is a holy god”. Joshua does not describe him as the Holy God, recognising YHWH as being of God Almighty, an agent of God, of El. Joshua recognised YHWH as greater than the other gods that were appearing as the leaders of other peoples whom the Israelites encountered. Joshua does not dismiss the other gods, but recognises that they have missions that are different to the mission of YHWH and that, were the Israelites to follow any of these other gods, they would be straying from their destiny. Later in scripture there is a shift and the Israelites begin to identify YHWH as El, God Almighty.
We encounter the importance of witnessing when the Israelites confirm that they can remain faithful to YHWH. The act of witnessing to something remains important and in the New Testament it is clear that the real mission of John the Baptist was to be a witness to the Spirit descending and remaining united to Jesus so that the Christ could incarnate. The witness is able to relinquish their own interests and report on behalf of another that the events unfolded is a certain manner which they beheld. One cannot be a witness without having seen the events.
Together with YHWH, whom Joshua describes as the Elohim of Israel, the Israelites receive another angelic guardian who works with YHWH. He is the archangel Michael who is a servant of the task of preparing the human being who can bear the Christ. He becomes the angelic folk spirit of Israel in this mission for Christ.
At this time Joshua wrote down the Law to help the Israelites remain on track and the Old Testament Study will look at sections of the Law in due course. He placed a stone as a witness, a constant reminder, to all that YHWH said to the Israelites.
By this time the land had been divided between the families of ten of the sons of Israel, and to the two sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, was each given a portion of land while to the family of Levi, because they were consecrated to work in the tabernacle and the temple in the service of YHWH, were given towns in each of the lands together with the fields that surrounded the towns for the grazing of livestock. This stems from the sinning of Reuben against his father Jacob with his father’s concubine through which he loses his birth right. The leadership portion of his birth right was given to Judah and the rights of the firstborn were given to Joseph. Hence, Joseph received two portions of land in the name of his sons because Jacob had blessed Joseph’s sons as his own. The land of Canaan is very diverse in character and the portion that was given to each family matched as aspect of the character of the that son of Israel to whom it was given. They were given that land that they could truly take hold of because it was a reflection of their being. They could become one with the land.
Joshua died at the age of 110. Moses died at the age of 120, a spiritual number. Moses lived a full complete cycle (10) of twelve. He had accomplished everything by the time he died. Joshua was a leader almost as great, but he was not Moses and therefore could not live to that number. He died one cycle short of the period of Moses.
Eleazar, son of Aaron, also died. Eleazar was a priest and Joshua was a prophet and a leader. Together these two oversaw the division of the land of Canaan between the tribes of Israel. This unity of prophet and leader continued through the book of Judges but with Samuel became split when he was led to anoint the first king. Thereafter the prophets were no longer leaders. Then we have the three foldness of prophet, priest and king.
The Old Testament Study
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
The book of Judges is the story of how the Israelites fail twelve times to remain faithful to YHWH. These twelve judges were called by YHWH to judge the Israelites for their unfaithfulness and the lead them back into faithfulness. They heard the message, they were a prophet, and they led the people.
The twelve judges are:
The cycle of events described at the start of the book is as follows:
The Angel of YHWH described in the story could be the Archangel Michael.
The story starts with Gideon threshing wheat in the winepress. It is a sign that he was to be a leader. This is a sacramental celebration.
When YHWH addresses Gideon after the Angel of YHWH has spoken, Gideon recognises his lordship and calls YHWH: Lord. (Today we recognise Christ as our Lord. The lordship changes over time.) Gedeon expresses that his family is the lowliest in their tribe and he is least in the family. Here we have a reference to “the last shall be first and first shall be last”.
We are then presented with an extraordinary situation in that Gideon asks YHWH to wait while he prepares an offering and YHWH agree to wait. When we read the preparation of the offering we realise that YHWH waited for a significant period of time. The offering consisted of bread and broth (of a goat). The religious ceremony in which we found Gideon continued. Gideon was a man who recognised that which had to be done. (We begin to understand the importance of what lives in the African Traditional religious life. An animal sacrifices its life in order to provide spiritual nourishment. These concepts live on in many religious traditions, even in Christianity, but the sacrifice on the cross of the Lamb of God, alleviates our need to sacrifice an animal.) A sacrifice must happen for communication, for communion, to happen. Gideon wished to commune with the Angel of YHWH. The sacrifice of a living animal is a deep desire to communicate with the spiritual world. It is not primitive. The angel of YHWH caused the sacrifice to burn completely to ash as a sign that the sacrifice had been accepted. Now something new could emerge.
The instruction YHWH gave to Gideon was to take a complete complement of servants (a full household) and destroy the altar of Baal (Adonis, the wrong lord for the Israelites to worship) and a seven-year-old bull. He must sacrifice a time in which they were unfaithful for a time in which they will be faithful again. He must sacrifice the bull with the wood of the sacred pillar of Baal to YHWH. They did it by night under the light of the moon of YHWH.
When the enemies came to invade, Gideon gathered the tribes and then asked for a sign for their victory. He placed lamb’s fleece on the ground and the dew fell only on the fleece. Two great signs of the Zodiac: the fleece of Aries and the water of Aquarius. Both of these symbols were significant to the peoples of Sumeria. Aquarius as servant of the god Enki and Aries as the hired man. These symbols are reimagined in the John 11 as the Good Shepherd, where the sheep run away from the hired man who flees at the first sign of danger. These powerful imaginations continued to live on for the people. Then the dew fell only on the ground. The dew is a blessing, firstly on the lamb and then the earth is blessed.
Gideon had too many people with him, so YHWH send home those with fear. 22 000 returned home while 10 000 remain: a thousand times a complete picture. Then YHWH selected based on how the men drank water. Three hundred lapped the water and they become the army of Gideon. These men took with then the horns of those who return home. The symbol of being horned speaks to a power that connects with something higher, beyond themselves. Three hundred is a three-foldness of 100 which a completeness 10 times over.
Deborah (and Barak)
After the death of one of the judges – scripture scholars are not certain whether the judges in the book of Judges are mentioned chronologically or are random, therefore it may be after the death of Shamgar (who gets only one verse in the book of Judges) – the Israelites strayed from their fidelity to YHWH (Yahweh of the Elohim). A Canaanite king oppressed them for twenty years, half the period of full spiritual development, who had an army of 900 chariots of war, not a full army of 1000, under the command of Sisera. Deborah was a prophetess who dwelt under a palm tree and the tree was named after her: the tree of Deborah. There, she acted as a judge for the complaints that the people of Israel brought to her.
She is described as “the wife of Lapidoth”. The original Hebrew described her as a woman of Lapidoth, but as there was never such a place name the assumption was that she must have been married to a man of that name. Wife can also be interpreted as simply woman or female, as it is comes to us in English words like midwife, not a spouse. However, lapidoth is derived from an ancient Hebrew word that meant a torch or lightning, fire. Therefore, it is more likely that Judges describes her as a fiery woman.
She sent for Barak and told him what YHWH had instructed her. He, Barak, must assemble an army from certain of the tribes, 10 000 men, a complete army, and face the Canaanite army under Sisera. Barak felt that he could do this only with her at his side. Deborah prophesises that should she accompany Barak Sisera would not be killed by Barak or his army, but by a woman. And so it happened. YHWH “discomforted” the Canaanite army and the Israelites defeated them. Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled on foot until he found an encampment of Kenites. These were people friendly to the Canaanites and he was welcomed into the tent by the wife of household, Jael. However, when Sisera was asleep she betrayed him and drove a tent peg through his temple into the ground. Jael came out to meet Barak and displayed Sisera to Barak.
Samson (and Delilah)
Samson is the last of the judges. We did not begin the story with his defeat of the Philistines, but rather at the story of Delilah.
Samson was a Nazarite who remained connected to the pure cosmic sources through his hair. It is worth considering that horns are made of hair. In not ever cutting his hair, Samson gained great physical strength through this connection to the cosmic forces. In a time of peace Samson loved Delilah. Delilah was offered eleven hundred pieces of silver (not a completeness of 12, falling short by 1) by each of the leaders of the Philistines to discover the source of Samson’s strength. Three times she asked Samson and three times he told her what was required to subdue him and each time when she did as he had instructed, he breaks free. She used the ruse “the Philistines are coming” to test whether she had been successful and each time he broke free from the bonds. He did not encounter the Philistines in any of these attempts although they were watching from a safe vantage point on the first occasion. Samson therefore did not suspect her treachery, thinking her only curious. When he told her the true source of his strength Delilah immediately recognised that he was being honest and she called the Philistines. They cut his hair and subdued him.
The story of Samson ends when the Philistines offered a sacrifice to their god Dagon, a god with a fish tail from Ancient Sumer, who was the father of Baal. Samson is brough from prison, so weak that a boy could subdue him, and led him to be the amusement of the Philistine leaders. Samson asked to rest against the pillars of the great house where the feast was being held and calling on YHWH he pushed over the pillars bring down the roof and killing all who were in the house, including himself. In that act he killed more people that during his defeat of the Philistines that brought peace to Israel.
Through this story we can learn that in times of weakness a new strength is always growing, as Samsons hair grew back in prison. There is always an abb and flow, never a consistent holding in time.
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